Wednesday 12 December 2018

Conlon was 'on verge of killing himself' while languishing in prison

Gerry Conlon
Gerry Conlon

Ralph Riegel

The Guildford Four's Gerry Conlon felt such despair after 12 years in prison he was on the verge of killing himself, private letters to the Irish Government have revealed.

While languishing in HMP Long Lartin, in England, in 1987, seven years after his father Giuseppe died in jail, Mr Conlon wrote how he could not face another 18 years of "living hell".

Conlon died in 2014 aged 60, three weeks after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

The letter, dated May 10, 1987, and released by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin under the 30-year rule, was sent to then-tánaiste and foreign affairs minister Brian Lenihan.

The west Belfast man reflected on his 30-year sentence.

"That means if nothing is done to help us I must face another 18 years of a 'living hell'. I can assure you I do not intend to serve it, I would much rather join my dear father. I can see that if my plight is not resolved in the near future I will have to decide which form of protest I must take.

"This is not something I want to do, but you can only suffer so much."

Mr Conlon and the rest of the Guildford Four - Paul Hill, Carole Richardson and Paddy Armstrong - were sentenced to life for the attacks in Guildford, Surrey, which killed five people and injured 65. Their convictions were overturned in 1989.

Irish Independent

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